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Think You're Indispensable - Think Again

Posted on June 5, 2019
Image of a notebook with the words: I am too Important and other "indispensable" words written on it.

For most of us, we have a set of specified responsibilities and tasks we complete on a daily basis to achieve assigned goals. Some of these responsibilities and tasks are simple, while others are complicated. Some take multiple days or weeks to complete. Some require collaboration or assistance. And some of these responsibilities and tasks are unique to us.

It could be a specific system only you know how to navigate or a software program unique to your job. It could be a process you have managed for years or improved over time. It could be relationships you have cultivated over time to yield results. These situations can lead employees to assume that since no one else knows the system, the program, the process, or the relationship, they cannot be replaced. This is a completely wrong assumption.

The reality is, everyone can be replaced. This is not to suggest that the employee’s value added is not disrupted should they leave. Someone who has worked at a company for twenty years holds incredible institutional knowledge and when they are let go, fired, etc., there is a loss, a distinct, even measurable loss, but back to reality -- someone else can step in and perform the role, maybe even better.

The moment you begin to make the assumption that you are indispensable, you set yourself up to be replaced. The assumption leaves you open to cutting corners or letting things slide. You let your guard down. You lose focus. All of which, leave you vulnerable to mistakes and potential critical errors, which ultimately can, and will, lead to criticism and potential dismissal.

I can’t stress enough, it is important to know your value and what you contribute to your department and the greater organization. Knowing this will allow you to take chances and think outside the box, which can bring about innovation and creativity. The important element is to stop yourself from slipping into the world of indispensability. Always be aware that there is someone else who can do your job – this realization will keep you on your game, keep you focused, and keep you in a place where you continue to strive for excellence.


Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department Head of Graduate Studies
Goodwin College
Drexel University
Posted in professional-development-career-tips